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Is it safe to drink soda left in a hot car?

Posted in Health, summer, tips by commorancy on June 29, 2021

This question seems like it should have a simple answer. However, the answer is more complicated than it would seem. Let’s explore.

Canned Soft Drinks and Beverages

Canned sodas are hermetically sealed and are bottled with bacteria free water. This means that high heat won’t grow anything undue. However, sodas have flavorings, artificial and sometimes natural colors and sugar or artificial sweeteners. Depending on these ingredients, sodas can deteriorate if left in hot conditions.

Canned sodas are “bottled” (or canned) in aluminum cans. While aluminum is heat safe, think about the aluminum foil you use to bake with, there is no problem with the aluminum itself. In fact, because the drink is fully sealed and not exposed to UV light, this method of storage with heat probably offers your best chances of retaining a drinkable beverage even after being exposed to excessive heat. If the aluminum were the only problem, this section would be over.

However, we must also consider the ingredients. The good news here is that artificial and natural colors are generally heat stable. Again, think about baking with food coloring. Colors don’t degrade under 350ºF / 176.7ºC baking temperatures, which is far higher than the heat your car interior should ever reach.

The same goes for soda flavorings. Most flavorings are designed for baking purposes which also reach high temperatures needed for baking.

What’s ingredients are left?

Sweeteners and preservatives. Depending on the sweetener, it might or might not be high heat stable. For example, it is known that Aspartame (aka NutraSweet) is not high heat stable. As temperatures increase, Aspartame begins to break down into components such as methanol. Keep in mind that Aspartame is made up of 10% methanol, 40% aspartic acid, and 50% phenylalanine.

Methanol is a highly toxic substance that, when heated above 86 degrees F (as it is in your body), is metabolized into formaldehyde (embalming fluid) and formic acid (the poison in fire ants).


As the above quote states, at 86ºF / 30ºC is when methanol begins to break down into formaldehyde and formic acid. This temperature is well lower than the temperatures which can be reached inside of a hot car. During a hot summer day, temperatures in a car can reach temperatures 20-30ºF / 5-10ºC hotter than the outdoor temperature. For example, a 90ºF / 32ºC ambient outdoor temperature can see temperatures rise to between 110ºF-120ºF / 43.3ºC-48.9ºC inside of a car.

If a beverage you’ve left in the vehicle contains Aspartame, it may not be safe to drink if the can has reached these high temperatures. For canned drinks, it takes between 30 minutes up to 1 hour to heat a can up to these high temperatures once in a vehicle.

Beverages that contain other sweeteners, such as saccharine, sugar, stevia or agave, are considered heat safe sweeteners. Sucralose (aka Splenda) claims to be heat safe, but may or may not be. If a drink contains Sucralose, you might want to taste it first. If the drink is no longer as sweet as you expect, a portion of the sweetener may have broken down in the heat and it’s not recommended to drink.

Bottled Drinks

There are two different types of bottles: glass and plastic.


Glass bottles are safe to drink so long as it contains heat safe ingredients. However, if the bottles have been exposed to UV by sitting in direct sunlight, some of the coloring might have faded and flavors may have changed. I’d be cautious if the bottle has been sitting around for hours in sunlight. I’d strongly suggest a smell and taste for any bottle which has been sitting in UV light for longer than 1 hour. If the bottle has been sitting for an hour, then it shouldn’t be problem. Always use the nose and taste test to determine suitability for drinking. If it doesn’t taste right, spit it out, then toss it out.


Plastic bottles are different beast. Plastic bottles can leach plastic and chemicals into the beverage after sitting in a hot car. This goes for water bottles and flavored beverages. If your beverage has been sitting for hours in direct sunlight in a super hot car, toss it out. Don’t risk it. It doesn’t matter if the ingredients are heat safe. It’s the plastic leaching that becomes the problem with plastic bottles.

Wine, Beer and Spirits

Wine is a drink that is best kept at room temperature (i.e., at or below 78ºF / 25.6ºC). If wine bottles are exposed to higher heat, such as 85ºF / 29.4ºC or hotter, the bottle of wine can be ruined. By ruined, the flavors change, the subtle aromas are lost and the bottle may increase tannins, making the wine unpalatable. The longer the wine remains at a high temp, the more the wine may turn into a flavor resembling vinegar. If you open a bottle and it tastes of vinegar, the bottle is bad. This goes for all wines including white, red, rose and bubbly.

Beer, like wine, will also sour and go bad when stored above room temperature for long periods. Unlike wine, beer is carbonated. This goes for sparkling wine and Champagne as well.

If you’re paying a lot for your wine or beer, you want to keep it in your car near an air conditioning vent, then remove from the car as soon as you arrive home. If it’s an especially hot day and you need to do a lot of running around, I’d suggest bringing a cooler with you and placing these into a cooler with ice. That, or shop for these items last.

Spirits, such as Tequila, Vodka and even Liqueurs can go bad in high heat. This is especially true for liqueurs like Bailey’s Irish Cream, which does contains dairy cream. Anything containing dairy should always be stored refrigerated once opened. However, Bailey’s Irish Cream remains shelf stable if unopened and is stored under room temperature conditions.

Changing Flavors

Regardless of whether a drink contains high-heat safe ingredients, sitting in super hot conditions or subject to UV exposure for long periods isn’t good for any food or drink. If you accidentally leave a case of soda cans in your car for three days or longer, I’d suggest tasting one first. By tasting, I mean just that. Taste and spit. If it tastes at all funny, then the cans are bad.

When buying drinks, it is suggested to take them into an air conditioned climate as soon as possible. Sure, you can run around for a little while while shopping, but be cautious for how long. If you know you plan to shop the entire day for hours, then plan to bring a cooler and place beverages and food items into the cooler to keep them stored properly and safely.


Carbonated beverages have one other problem with high heat. As more and more manufacturers reduce costs, they tend to make their product containers (cans and bottles) as thin as possible. These containers are safe when stored in appropriate conditions. However, under high heat conditions, these containers can weaken and burst.

As high heat creeps in, this weakens a plastic bottle or can, which can lead to an explosion. Safety is a concern when buying a case of cans or plastic bottles and choosing to leave then in a hot car. Glass bottles should be safer in regards to exploding, but the beverage itself may not survive high heat conditions.

Summer Safety Tips

Always store cans and bottles in a cooler, if at all possible. If you know you plan shopping at a number of stores, plan to bring a cooler with ice. This way, you can store cans and bottles in the cooler while remaining out and about. As our summers seem to be getting hotter and hotter each year, carrying around a cooler becomes ever more important.

If you’re buying expensive beer, wine and spirits, then you definitely want a cooler. There’s no danger in storing wine at ice temperatures for a short time, but there is definitely a danger from wine becoming too hot. Same for beer and spirits. For soda or bottled water, it’s fine to remain in the car for a 20 minute drive home, but if it needs to remain in the car for hours, then you’ll want plan a cooler for these as well.

As we move into the hotter days of summer, plan to spend for and use a decent cooler for those days when you need to be out and about for longer than a few hours.


iPad: Reflections of things to come?

Posted in cloud computing by commorancy on February 3, 2010

While many critics are discussing the iPad’s lack of design and originality, I’ve come to another conclusion about this device and its ultimate vision.  Jobs has always been a visionary among computing technologies.  This device may seem unoriginal on the surface, but the one question that must be asked, “Is this device the first salvo to the death of the PC?” As much as you might consider that this is a PC, I believe that this device and its form factor may be the future of thin computing (like it or not).


Some technologists predict that wireless technologies and broadband connections will get to the speed threshold that will render hard drives obsolete.  There is some merit to this argument.  Indeed, once the network speeds exceed hard drive speeds, what then is the need for the hard drive?  So, why keep your data on flaky devices prone to failure?  This is especially true when there’s plenty of cloud storage that can protect your data from loss.

With that in mind, once we unburden the computer from unstable storage technologies (ignoring the ramifications to Western Digital and Seagate), the need for portable always-connected devices like the iPad become amazingly clear.

iPad 1.0

The iPad is still firmly tied to storage technologies, albeit sans hard drive.  Instead, it uses flash storage.  Flash storage is silent and probably longer lasting than unstable mechanical drives.  Flash can be placed into footprints that can make devices very small.  As the size of flash memory increases and their subsequent footprint decreases, this memory offers unprecedented size possibilities.  While the iPad is a clumsy design, one thing is clear… it may yet become the first viable cloud computing device.

Cloud Computing

This is the prediction from technologists that spell doom and gloom to the likes of Microsoft and Apple.  Well, at least doom and gloom to the operating systems we know and love.  With cloud computing, no longer will we have the need for local storage.  Instead, all of our files will exist on servers in the cloud.  Indeed, when broadband technologies get to gigabit speeds, it will far exceed the speed of slow, mechanical, loud and unreliable hard drive technologies.  Flash storage will become the defacto standard for temporary local storage. With always-on computing at every place around the globe at gigabit speeds, there will be no need to for the hard drive.  This means your files will always be online.

We are already heading in that direction rapidly.  With sites like Flickr and Picasa, you can store all of your photos online.  With Last.fm, you can listen to just about any music you want.  With Hulu, you can watch all of the TV that you want.  These are all perfect examples of cloud computing.  With always-on cloud computing, you will eventually have access to anything you need immediately. For example, you want to watch a movie released to the theaters last Friday?  Tune in and you’re watching.

The immediacy of any data you can possibly want will usher in cloud computing and possibly spell death to the PC.

Dumb Terminals

With the release of devices like the iPad and other solid state tablet devices, it’s clear we’re moving towards cloud computing.  We just need our Internet speeds to become much faster.  Data security issues need to be fully addressed, yes.  Were cloud computing to become the defacto standard, and I believe it has a strong chance of that, smaller thinner devices with thin client softwares (lightweight operating systems) may spell the end to the likes of Windows and Mac OS X (at least for consumer devices).  With thin client computing, devices can become very thin, sleek and very fast.  Instead of shuttling around small SD cards from device to device, each consumer device will include a thin client to upload videos and audios directly to the cloud.

The immediacy of such consumer data will also user in a new wave of news reporting.  An earthquake in Haiti?  Cloud computing will ensure images appear on the web immediately by cloud users.

How do the business models work?

That’s dependent on businesses.  With Google positioning itself as being the leader in cloud computing, it has already a substantial leap over other slow barge companies like Microsoft.  Oracle’s Larry Ellison had predicted cloud computing years ago.  While his prediction was years early and no where near ready for primetime, his prediction may actually be coming into reality.

Data Centers

Clearly, the hard drive will never go away entirely.  Cloud computing requires massive data centers with lots of spindles holding data somewhere.  So, the burden of storage will be firmly placed onto companies like Google.  So, while consumer devices become smaller, more compact and offer cloud computing, business’ data centers will still require larger computers with hefty storage systems (the data has to exist somewhere).  So, while thin computer may become commonplace in years to come for consumers, data centers will still be firmly entrenched in larger numbers of computers and the then fastest storage technologies.  So, while Seagate and Western Digital may no longer be household words for consumers, they will still have a huge presence in the back ends that run the clouds.

Where we are now

Our Internet is still far too slow to be of real use in cloud computing today and, thus, not really ready for thin computing yet.  But, as technology progresses, we will see much faster Internet speeds in the future.  This will allow for always-on wireless anywhere computing.  As devices become more portable and connected, it is inevitable that consumer technology become dumber to take advantage of remote storage.  Right now, I see cloud computing as at least 10-20 years out for true viability.  However, I believe that in hindsight, the iPad and iPod touch may be seen as the ‘father’ of thin computing devices.

Local Storage / Death of Windows?

For better or worse, thin client computing is coming. No longer will we need bloated operating systems like Windows. Once the immediacy of cloud storage becomes apparent, users will rapidly see the convenience of being able to get their files anywhere at anytime.  Local storage traps your data in one computer that you only have access to at limited times.  Cloud computing allows you to store your data in omnipresent storage that can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere. More than this, software as a service (SaaS) will ensure apps on the web rather than the need to be installed locally.

Standardized thin client computers will offer throw-away computers.  Computers that, when broken, are simply tossed and you purchase another.  No need to worry, “Oh, I’ve lost all my files”.  Just simply buy a new thin client, login and all your files are immediately there.  This is convenience and hassle-free computing at its simplest.

The iPad may be a considered a failure in our current local computing mentality, but it may actually be the perfect computer to usher in cloud computing.  It just needs to overcome some hurdles like lack of Flash and Silverlight.

There may yet be method to Steve Jobs’ madness.

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